It’s that feeling that we all experience at some point at work; the feeling where your eyes just can’t quite seem to focus on the screen and you keep forgetting what you’re trying to do, so you start doing three things at once. Other times (hopefully more than not), you feel alert, completing tasks to a hight standard well ahead of deadline, leaving you feeling like a productivity superstar! Why do you have these swings?
Research from LondonOffices has found that the average worker is at their most productive at 10:26 am, after clearing their inbox and planning their agenda for the day ahead. It also found that the least productive period is at 2:55 pm, possibly brought on by the post-lunch lull. Though interestingly, the second most productive period was found to be just over an hour later at 4:16 pm, when you’re approaching the end of the day.
Identify Your Style
Of course, this varies from person to person. Everyone’s attention span and energy levels work in different ways, with some people being “early birds” who prefer to work first thing in the morning, and others who become nocturnal when working to deadline, pulling long nights to get things done.
Whatever your style, it should be relatively easy to mind map when you are at your best or indeed your worst in the office. Over one week, write down the times at which you feel you’re most alert and the times that you feel as though you’re nodding off at your desk.
Once you’ve done this, you can work out when you’re at your most attentive and when your energy wanes and your mind is prone to wandering. Then, you can look at your calendar and decide which tasks are the most challenging and require the most focus, whether it’s an important meeting, a client-facing document or anything that requires your concentration, and move it to a time of day when you’re at your most alert.
Dont Worry So Much About Time
The most common worry for employees is often a lack of time, but it can just be down to the fact that you have a limited amount of high-focus and energy–or, as Sendhil Mullainathan calls it, mental bandwidth. It’s just as important to manage your attention as it is your time, and both should be used as tools in your productivity arsenal. By crafting your day around your productivity hotspots, you can ensure that important tasks are always done to the best of your ability and without any worries about time.